Disclaimer: The usual, Gundam Wing belongs to it's owners (Bandai, Sunset,
and a whole host of others, none of which are me) and I'm not making any
money off of them. Not a single peanut.
Rated R for language, lots of violence, sexual content
see chap. 1 for more notes
Source Of All Things + Chapter 20
The Eye Of The Beholder
Trowa's senses touched the
lines around him instinctively and they soothed him. He was in his bed,
in the sanctuary. A warm fire crackled nearby. Quatre was by his side,
rubbing his hand with a gentle thumb. Svale was sitting on the foot of
the bed with - Trowa's senses informed him with quiet resignation - her
hand slipped under the cover where she was groping his ankle, knee and
toes a bit distractedly. They were talking in hushed voices but he was
too tired to make out their words, and he sighed, wondering why his chest
"- physical contact is still a must, but then it can lay dormant and near-invisible
for - Eep!" Svale started and fell off the bed with a thump as Trowa shot
up into a sitting position, his eyes wide as they fastened on a pale and
startled Quatre. The healer dropped his hand instinctively, blue eyes
"Fen- Duo- you shot me!" Trowa blurted. He only wanted to recap the events
whose memories were hammering him like pile-drivers but he immediately
caught his mistake as the pale face went rigid with pain. Quatre scrambled
off the bed and Trowa, ignoring his aching chest and the fatigue welded
to his bones, used his long arms to dive forward, tackle the healer back
onto the bed and into his embrace. He squeezed the young man as hard as
he could - which wasn't very much at that point - until he felt the body
he was holding begin to relax a little.
"You're okay." He mumbled into Quatre's shoulder. "You're back. You- you
are okay, right?" The lines were once more familiar and free though he
was too weary to look closely.
"He's fine! It's you we need to check now you're awake." Svale snapped,
scuttling up the bed to stand near Trowa. "Move out of the way, Rabbit!"
Quatre leaned back and his blonde hair was replaced by a close-up of Svale's
nose, eyes and wrinkles, which was less appealing. Trowa tried to inch
away, curl his lover back into his arms again, but a hand like a knotted
tree root caught his chin and jerked his head down an inch to Svale's
level. Her free hand patted him on the forehead, lifting his bangs, then
dropped down the side of his face, felt his chest gently...
"Hmm..." She muttered, sending her unique blend of smells - old dust,
fresh liquor - wafting over the shaman. Her hand dropped to his abdomen
then patted his thigh. "Hmmmmmm..."
"Stop pretending you're still looking for something and get your hands
off him, Svale." Quatre was hugging himself, still pale, but he managed
a weak smile at the old witch.
"Just checking, Rabbit! The mark can be anywhere, you know! Trowa, my
lad, I'm gonna have to ask you to strip and -"
Quatre's hand hooked her by the collar and peeled her off. "Duo would
not be able to get near Trowa with any bad intentions, Svale, and you
know it. He's not put any spell on him. Now get off."
Svale sniffed and looked offended but took a step back, relinquishing
her spot to the healer again. Quatre took Trowa's hands, felt his pulse
and looked into his eyes with clinical detachment.
"The blast damaged your lungs, broke four ribs and bruised your muscles
badly." He said quietly. "I've healed the worst of it. You'll feel tired
for a few days, but you should be fine."
"I feel fine now." Trowa lied. "How are you? What-what happened?"
Quatre sighed. Trowa looked at him more closely. His face was pale and
he looked tired, and there was...something else, a distance, an aloofness
that he didn't recognize. Or rather...it was like the quiet concentration
Quatre used when healing serious wounds, mastering the weaving of flesh
and mind and bone with deceptive ease. Except this was devoid of the compassion,
warmth and joy that shone from him during those occasions. Oh those qualities
were still there - Trowa had instinctively plunged below the surface,
hunting the dysfunction along a well-known pattern - but they were now
Trowa started as a gentle hand covered his eyes, interrupting his reading.
"Don't." The healer whispered gently. "You'll only make yourself sick
if you push yourself when you're this tired."
Trowa couldn't disagree, his head had started spinning from that small
effort. He leaned back against the pillows Quatre helped him settle against
the headboard, while he wondered how the healer had known he was trying
to read him.
"I'll tell you what happened - briefly - since you probably won't get
to sleep until I do." Quatre said, smiling ruefully. "I'm afraid we don't
know much, though. Duo-...do you remember-"
"I remember everything up until-" you shot me- "that is, I remember those
men, and Duo and Heero fighting. And Fen before that." A shadow passed
in front of Quatre's eyes. "What did Duo do to you?"
"I can't tell you much." Quatre said carefully. "He used some kind of
spell on me."
"It's called a mark of control. Or a shihai no shirushi if you want to
get technical and use its Old Tongue name." Svale interposed. "A very
old type of spell. But still effective. Maxie was an excellent mage. He
put the whammy on poor Rabbit in a record short time - what did you say,
boy? Less than ten minutes?"
"At the drums festival." Trowa said abruptly, another memory coming back.
"I knew - felt - there was something wrong."
"It normally takes hours of careful preparation and rituals - and the
occasional torture session - for a mark of control to stick. Maxie did
it in two minutes by scratching his nose as close as I can make out."
Trowa assumed she was speaking metaphorically.
"It was like falling into an abyss." Quatre said quietly, eyes distant.
"And it was so well done it was invisible even to you, Trowa." Svale continued
cheerfully with a hint of admiration in her tones. "It left Rabbit completely
unaware of the interference until he was in a position to carry out the
pre-programmed order the mark imposed, and then it activated to control
and subdue him."
"But now?" Trowa said, looking at Quatre carefully. "Are you-"
"Duo lifted it before he disappeared." Quatre said, his voice neutral.
"After he made me shoot you. I-"
"You didn't mean it, Quatre." Trowa interrupted quickly.
Blue eyes were candid as the healer shrugged. "I know." He said simply.
"He lifted it and left. I don't know why. I...we spoke last night, briefly,
but he didn’t say much...when he was gone, Heero and I drove the vardo
to the planet-hopper those men used and called Howard to pick us up. That
was twelve hours ago. We've not seen Duo since. We don’t know who he is
or what he wanted. That's all."
"Oh..." Trowa tried to think but his mind felt gummed up and his chest
throbbed. He refrained from examining it though, he didn't want to hurt
Quatre by reminding him of the episode. The healer looked fine with it
but Trowa knew his lover a bit better than that.
"Duo..." The shaman muttered, his hand rubbing Quatre's arm absently.
"I can't believe it. All this time...and for what? Why did- " Trowa stiffened
and his hands tightened on Quatre's arms as another memory emerged. "Zero?
What happened with-..."
Quatre shrugged again and smiled reassuringly but behind his shoulder
Svale - who was massaging Trowa's thigh purely for medicinal purposes
- suddenly looked very grave and her eyes shot a warning. Trowa's heart
"We're not quite sure about that either." Quatre said, his eyes unreadable.
Trowa managed to refrain from reading his lines. He felt too tired to
cope with what he could find, and Svale's warning glance told him he'd
find it. "I may be stuck with it. But it's okay, it's not doing anything
right now, I managed to stabilize it. Don't worry about it. I want you
to rest now. You need more sleep if you're going to get better." Firm
but gentle hands pushed Trowa back against the pillows.
"Stay with me." Trowa said, catching Quatre’s fingers as he rose from
"Of course." The healer smiled gently, and disengaged his hand just long
enough to toss Svale out of the bedroom before returning to curl up carefully
next to Trowa. A soothing hand brushed the bangs from his face, while
their fingers entwined. "Rest. Things will be clearer later." Quatre whispered.
Trowa's eyes closed, dragged down by fatigue that seemed to have seeped
into every cell in his body; he let his skin concentrate on the trickle
of Quatre's breath on his cheek, the hand in his, the other one gently
caressing his forehead, his face, his shoulder...the warmth of the healer's
body near his own. Things were quite clear now...he never wanted to move
Svale lost the good-natured pout she'd worn for Rabbit when he'd kicked
her out. She stomped down the hallways of the sanctuary looking thoughtful.
Maxie...now there was a turnaround for the books. What was he up to? He
was so young - his appearance was not an illusion, she could feel it in
her bones. How could he have so much control, knowledge and power at his
age? Why had he used it to attack Fen? Why had he used Quatre
to attack Fen when it sounded like he would be able to take out the old
man by himself? And why force zero onto Quatre?
And the other big question...what would Maxie be doing next? She knew
he wasn't about to give up with-...whatever it was he was trying to use
them for; not because of this little upset. Shinigami. Or rather, if Heero
had been right, Shi No Kami, which was a whole lot scarier. The God Of
Death. In the Old tongue of power no less. Shit. But he wasn't a god,
she knew that. For one he didn’t need no source to be able to kick butt
and take names, it appeared. And he needed Trowa, Quatre and Heero for
something. Gods tended to be very independent (not to say stubborn pig-headed
-...lightning bolt, remember, lightning bolt). How much had he been manipulating
them from the start? Shinigami. He stole stuff. Powerful magical items.
But nothing had vanished since he'd appeared...Quite the contrary...Svale's
eyes narrowed and the gleam in them would have surprised those who didn't
know her well. Quite the contrary, a lot of things had shown up in the
sanctuary since he'd popped up out of nowhere. Did that mean...
Svale hesitated before her door. She should go and have another crack
at the next mystery on her list. Heero. He'd apparently known something
about Maxie. And he was a pretty big question mark himself. A pretty
big question mark. Very pretty. But he didn’t trust her - if his habit
of punching her through walls was any indication - so she doubted she'd
get anything from him. He seemed to be attached to Quatre and Trowa though,
who knew why...Once Trowa was up-
Svale froze in the doorway as the door swung open. Magic crackled reflexively
along her staff, an indication of how worried and off-balance she was
as she rarely displayed any power openly.
Someone had been in her room.
She approached the desk carefully. It was clear of the usual mess of scrolls
and artefacts, they'd been unceremoniously dumped on her bed. There were
three books open on the desktop instead. She hopped up on the high stool
she used and looked at them carefully without touching them. Two of the
books were hers. The Jishin book they'd recently found with the sanctuary
key. A techno book on magnetic resonance and planetary factoids, which
she had never bothered to throw away. And a book she’d never seen before,
ancient in appearance. Her eyes widened slowly as she took in the pages
on which they were open. They seemed unrelated - and she didn't know the
new book well enough to guess what that one was getting at - but the very
superposition of those open pages had sparked an idea in her head. Several
ideas. Oh yes.
"Well done, Maxie." She said coldly. "I get it. Wanna come out and discuss
this like a reasonable adult?"
Nothing happened for three seconds. Then she turned slowly as she felt
a presence in the previously empty space behind her.
Duo was leaning against the door in his old casual leathers, a small smile
on his face, relaxed as if he'd been there all along.
Svale looked at him warily.
Duo lifted a finger, put it slowly to his lips, then opened the door and
slipped out noiselessly.
Svale hesitated, not sure she would be able to do much. But then Heero
was in his room just down the hallway and she had a feeling he'd love
a rematch with the Maxwell mystery. She bounced off the stool, hurled
herself to the door, wrenched it open-
Wasn't very surprised, and even mildly relieved, when the hallway outside
turned out to be empty...
She turned back to the books. A lot of studying ahead of her. But she
had a better idea of where Maxie stood now. A cold, manipulative, secretive
son of a bitch...but she was ready to bet they had a common enemy. Should
she tell the others? She remembered the finger on his lips, enjoining
her to secrecy. No, better say nothing. Emotions were high. She had a
feeling the others would have a knee-jerk reaction to anything Duo-esque
in the near future, and she didn't have time for tempers to cool and wiser
heads to prevail. Which was of course exactly what he'd been aiming for.
Damn and blast the brat! She was over five hundred years his senior, she
shouldn't have to dance to his tune, and lie to her friends to boot! But
she didn't have a choice.
She had a feeling that, for Maxie to have moved this openly, things with
Jusan might be coming to a head a bit quicker than previously thought.
The Scourge was still far away...but his minions could always rip Ether
and get here in weeks. He might send an army ahead of him...or a herald!
Now that would be a disaster.
She quickly bent to study the books.
There was no fuzzy amnesia to cushion the shock this time. Trowa woke
confused, angry about Duo, in pain and very unhappy about the lack of
Quatre anywhere near the bed.
It was nighttime again and the moon was shining into the room. He glanced
around, feeling the tug of a familiar pattern.
Quatre was at the window, looking out. He was bare-chested, hugging himself
as if he were cold. The moonlight bleached his hair white; it smoothed
the drawn, tired features and smudged eyes into a vision of alabaster
and pearl. His skin shone like nacre, a nipple casting a minute blue shadow
near one of his crossed arms.
Exactly what Trowa had been thinking, but it was Quatre who said the word.
His voice was soft, a whisper of reluctant wonder.
"What is?" Trowa said absently. He'd barely tensed to shove the covers
back and get up to join his lover when Quatre said: "Don’t. You really
shouldn't be moving for another twelve hours."
Trowa subsided, feeling slightly uneasy. The aloofness was still there.
Quatre hadn't looked at him. He opened his mouth to ask if everything
"It is beautiful..." Quatre said. His hands rubbed his arms. "It all connects.
It's like an echo of...of everything, contained in miniature. So detailed.
So precise. Like clockwork. No...not that inorganic or logical...it flows
like water set in stone...damn, now I know why you can never tell me what
you see with that eye of yours." Quatre added over his shoulder with a
small, rueful smile.
The shaman felt his soul grow cold. "Quatre? Are you using zero?"
"Using it? No." Quatre turned towards the window again.
"Good, because I really think-"
"I don't need to. It's already altered my perceptions enough that I can
see the lines without it."
Trowa stared at his lover. The indifferent tone chilled him as much as
"Don't worry." Quatre added absently. "Doing that much won't harm me."
"What will?" Trowa asked pointedly.
Quatre's eyes turned inward as if weighing what he should say. Trowa felt
a jab of pain add itself to the worry.
"...I don't know. It’s a bit tricky. For me to be able to use zero properly,
I need to let it alter me, my perceptions, my thought patterns. Otherwise
I won't be able to handle it, to absorb its output without going- without
getting distressed. But the ways it wants to change me...the alterations
were tailored for a Jishin, and I don't have their power or capability."
He was speaking calmly, as if discussing one of his patients. "If I can
adapt to the changes then it will make controlling zero easier. Which
is good because if I can't control it I might end up using it instinctively,
and improperly, and that might-" He interrupted himself with a quick sideways
glance at Trowa. "That might not be wise." He added carefully. Trowa found
himself gripping the covers until his hands shook.
Quatre's voice was still curiously distant and thoughtful. "The problem
of course is that each change zero wants to make in me might-...also lead
to unfortunate results. If I had better control over zero I'd be able
to make sure it only made the changes that can't harm me but of course
to control zero that much it has to alter me considerably to do so...there's
a certain irony there. Svale says the best is not to use it at all and
"Yes. And we'll do our best to get rid of the damn thing." Trowa bit out.
Quatre's eyes were still on the moonlit scene. He neither agreed or disagreed.
"So...do you see the lines?" Trowa asked, trying to lighten the mood,
reassure himself and Quatre. They'd sort this out. In the meantime he
wanted to get his lover's mind off of spell-imposed changes and possible
misfortunes, to concentrate on something less grim. "Can you see the moon's
path? The witch's way? The flow of the dragon? Oh, you don't know which
name go with which line, I guess. I..." Trowa surprised himself by managing
a smile, as he found one small gem of consolation in this mess. "I can
teach you to read the lines. If you want. I-"
"I see the Sanctuary." Quatre said. "I’m not surprised it gives you the
occasional headache. It bends everything around it like a lead ball on
a loose sheet. How can you stand being here, it must be painful for you."
Trowa smoothed the rumpled covers under his hands as they unclenched.
"Well it's only been this bad since Svale repaired it-"
"Duo repaired it." Quatre interrupted him gently. "Svale just used the
key to activate it. But it was too damaged to-"
"How do you know that?!"
Quatre glanced at him in surprised and then smiled, his eyes crinkling.
He looked more like himself. Blond curls rustled as he rubbed the back
of his head. "Oh, it's...I can apparently recognize Duo's....fingerprints,
I guess you-"
"Pattern." Trowa corrected him absently.
"Right, pattern, and he's left traces of himself all over the place. The
underground passages are just steeped in them."
"What underground passages?"
"The very deep and complex ones that lead all the way down to the source."
Quatre chuckled. "Svale is going to be very busy in the coming days. I
should be able to show her how to get there - without
using zero, relax. I just need to read the sanctuary lines until I find
Quatre's eyes dropped to the floor. He put his hands behind his back and
took a small step forward, balancing his weight at the hips. He took another
step, his face smoothing into thoughtful lines. Moonlight and shadows
played across his bare chest. Three small deliberate steps further, and
he balanced and turned on one foot, then put his other foot down carefully.
He looked like he was deep in thought and only partly concentrating on
what he was doing.
"Duo has done a lot of work." He said absently, visibly following his
own train of thought. He swayed a bit and put the next foot before the
other, now heading towards the door. Two steps. "No wonder he was so tired
and stressed out before we left. I think he was repairing the sanctuary
and also gearing it for something..." He turned by rising on the balls
of his feet and twisting thirty degrees, then stood swaying back and forth,
knees locked, eyes on the floor and hands behind his back, like a little
boy about to walk across stepping stones. "The whole point of all Duo
did was to prepare for something. I'm pretty certain it's Jusan's arrival.
But what he's preparing...I think he's Jusan's enemy...but we can't be
sure. There's a chance he could be working for the Scourge and he infiltrated
our group to see what Svale and the other Guardians would do to oppose
him. We just don't know." He sighed with something like resignation and
took two longer steps across unseen chasms in the floor. Trowa was staring
at Quatre's feet, frowning.
"What are you doing?"
Quatre glanced up in surprise. The last steps had taken him close to the
"Oh, just...following one of the patterns."
Trowa stared hard at the floor with both his eyes. "I can't see anything."
"It's one of the Sanctuary lines. It's...zero is jishin, so I guess it's
more attuned to them than your shamanism is." Quatre grinned at his feet,
though his eyes held little warmth, only clinical curiosity. "I swear
these patterns are bizarre. I'm willing to bet a jishin couldn't think
in a straight line if you ran him over with a steamroller. What a weird
Though his face didn't change, Trowa felt suddenly sad. The lines Quatre
thought were beautiful, he knew without having to ask...they'd been the
ones generated by the Sanctuary, not the lines of nature and earth around
Quatre took another, more deliberate step towards the bed and looked down
at the shaman. Trowa glanced up as he felt eyes running slowly over his
lanky frame, his bare, bruised chest still, the lean fall of his hips
and long legs.
"You're beautiful..." Quatre whispered.
Trowa smiled slightly and took a slim hand in his, pulling the healer
to sit down on the side of the bed. Quatre's eyes never left the slow
scrutiny of his body. His expression was the same as it was at the window
though. A touch of wonder. Curiosity. Analytical interest. And a slight
Trowa watched a slim finger extend slowly and touch his chest. It moved
after a few seconds and trailed bit by bit across his sternum to a spot
just below the left nipple. Quatre broke the line, dropped to another
an inch below it, a slight frown marring the clear expression of his face.
Trowa's eyes and senses brushed over his own lines, sharing his lover's
vision. The powerful straight line of his wheel of life, the backbone
of his being, ran from chakra to chakra, from his crown to his foundation
at the base of the spine. From each chakra, the lines of his tree of life
branched out, running from his ganglia across to different organs. From
its branches hung the delicate lace of his lymphatic and nervous systems,
with little twists and knots at the more important pressure points. Other
systems - magnetic, energetic, emotic, base and high - coiled and crisscrossed
in compound geometries. Above it all lay the ghost of his aura, the complex
pattern that linked his body and mind to the flow and ebb of nature around
him. Sparkles and flashes of vectors ran from each of these systems to
the other, connecting them. Each system changed with a twitch of muscle,
an emotion, a cold breeze, a flux in the magnetic field. Each change cascaded
on to the next system to which it was linked, and the next, and the next.
A human being was a pool of lines and geometries, separate yet connected,
rippling and throbbing with life. From this morass, a shaman could detach
and follow certain patterns to match a purpose, once again changing the
whole, an ever-ongoing, intricate dance.
Trowa watched as Quatre nibbled his lips in concentration and drew his
finger up the branch he was tracing, down the main line joining two of
Trowa's vital chakras. He then edged off following, to Trowa's surprise,
a line that belonged to his magnetic flow. The slim finger traced that
to the end - Trowa smiled slightly as it tickled his sides an inch below
the ribs - then drew up along yet another set of lines, his lover's pressure
point paths. Trowa felt a shiver along his body. That was an unusual combination,
and not necessarily pleasure inducing, but then again, with that adorable
pout of concentration on Quatre's face and his gentle fingers anywhere
on his body...Quatre could be tapping Trowa's nose and the shaman would
still feel his pants getting tighter as they were now. Apparently his
body had had enough rest to recuperate certain functions.
Quatre lifted the finger but before Trowa could complain - and he most
certainly would have - he put it back straight on Trowa's heart chakra
and drew a brisk line down to the power chakra. There he hesitated. Trowa
watched him curiously, his mind already playing with familiar parameters,
the patterns that could be selected from the intricate mesh of the body,
be traced with finger or mouth to stimulate and please; he'd used them
many times on his lover. Quatre appeared unsure though; his finger was
slower as it traced up the main line then followed a pressure point path,
once more, across Trowa's lowest rib, until he reached the side, then
back up again, across the twelfth branch of the life tree, towards the
Quatre frowned and withdrew his hand; it dropped back into his lap slowly.
His eyes remained fixed on Trowa's chest.
"Can you see them?" Trowa asked softly, then corrected himself. Obviously
Quatre could see Trowa's lines. "Can you follow them to bring out a particular
pattern? Without using zero." He added quickly.
Quatre gave a half shrug, looking unhappy. "I can see. Sort of. Actually
I can see…certain useful points, and guess where the lines are from that,
and how to use them."
"Useful points? You mean, acupuncture ganglia? You should be able to see
some patterns, to heal the mind, or unblock energy lines, or for -" he
wanted to add sexual stimulation, but hesitated as he saw Quatre's eyes,
still fixed on his chest, harden, and the hands stiffen in his lap.
Quatre rose slowly and turned away. He paused, not quite looking at his
"I see vital points, weaknesses and targets. Zero is a weapon. It's not
concerned with your health or pleasure, Trowa. It's showing me how to
"You should rest now." He added as he returned to the same position by
the window, arms crossed over his chest, eyes following lines Trowa could
not see. The shaman stared, not knowing what to feel or think.
"Love...we have to get rid of this thing." He said slowly, and unexpectedly
yawned. Damn, he was too tired to think about this, what with the last
twenty-four hours- but no! They had to figure out how to- Trowa blinked
rapidly and found his head sinking back into the pillow. They had to figure
out how to get that spell from Quatre. That was....the top priority....He
thought he felt something brush along his crown chakra. The lines around
him danced briefly but stilled before he could catch them at it...damn
sanctuary...playing with the order of things again...give him a headache...he'd
just close his eyes for a few seconds while he thought of how to get zero
Quatre's eyes once more focused on the scenery outside as he heard his
lover's breathing steady and deepen. He didn't look at Trowa. He rubbed
his blood-stained hands against his arms again, though he knew they wouldn't
warm him, and started scrutinizing the patterns before him again. He was
studying defensive patterns, key areas that would allow him to manipulate
the leylines and magnetic fields, places that would allow him to thrust
back evil influences if anything braided decided to show up here again...he
was still an amateur though, even Svale was better at this than he was.
Zero whispered equations in his mind, trying to tell him about the subtle
geometries of the sanctuary. The complexity of what zero showed him increased
until he could no longer follow, and he felt it nudge him gently; it would
only require a small change to his mind to go further. Only a small increase
in his ability to perceive and manipulate patterns. So he could defend
Trowa and himself...
No. That would be...dangerous. Probably.
Zero's equations changed as it sensed his concern regarding the mutations;
they informed him of ways the spell could change Quatre’s mind so the
healer could calculate the risk implied in changing him further. Quatre
made a wry face at the catch and zero slinked back like a scolded puppy.
He'd not use it. It would really be too risky.
His eyes narrowed at the way the moonlight tripped over coils and vectors
Unless he needed to of course.
[chap. 19] [chap. 21] [back
to Maldoror's fic]